The Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling - Erin Bernstein - ebook

The Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling ebook

Erin Bernstein



In this volume, the author inches closer and closer to the impending war. We can learn more about ourselves, the human race, if we simply acknowledge that we have been questioning the very same matters as five ancient characters created millenias ago.

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Erin Bernstein, Kisari Mohan Ganguli

The Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling

Volume 4: Virata

I dedicate this volume to the power of Love. Love sustains us, nourishes us, and supports us. If we infused the air we breathe with love, how different the world would be.BookRix GmbH & Co. KG80331 Munich

Chapter 629

Om. Let us honor Narayana. Let us honor Him, the most honorable Nara. Let us honor Her, the goddess called Saraswati. Jayatu Bhava!

“Janamejaya said, ‘What happened when my great-grandfathers, troublingly afraid of Duryodhana, went incognito in Virata’s city? O Brahmin, what happened when the quite blessed Draupadi, one woe-stricken and always loving towards the holy god, went incognito too?’"

"Vaisampayana said,

‘Listen, O Lord of Men, to how your great-grandfathers spent their time incognito in Virata’s city. The God of Justice had granted their wishes, so the supremely virtuous man, Yudhishthira, returned to the shelter and told the Brahmins everything that had happened. Upon telling them everything, Yudhishthira returned the stirring-staff and the firewood to the reborn Brahmin who had followed him. O Bharata tribesman, the son of the God of Justice, royal Yudhishthira, the mahatma, then asked that his younger half-brothers assemble. He told them: We were banished from our kingdom and twelve years have come and gone. The difficult thirteenth year has come. O Arjuna – O son of Kunti – please find a place for us to live; it must be a place whereat we may hide from our enemies.

"Arjuna replied: Because of the favor Dharma showed us, we, O Lord of Men, shall be able to wander around without men discovering us. But, because you want a home, let me mention some delightful, isolated places. Choose one of them. Around the Kurus’ kingdom are many lands that are both beautiful and abundant when it comes to corn – Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Patachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and that vast place called Kuntirashtra. Which, O king, do you choose? Where, supreme king, shall we live for a year?

"And Yudhishthira said: O mighty-armed one, it shall be as such. What the beloved Lord of Creatures has said shall be must be. We’ll consult with one another and then choose a delightful, auspicious, and pleasant place in which to live – we’ll be fear-free therein. Now, old Virata, King of the Matsyas, is virtuous, powerful, charitable, and liked by all. He has an alliance with the Pandavas. O child, let’s spend a year in Virata’s city as his servants. O Kuru sons, how will we serve the King of the Matsyas?

"Arjuna said: O god among men, how will you serve Virata’s kingdom? O righteous one, what will you do while living in Virata’s city? You’re gentle, charitable, modest, virtuous, and a promise-keeper. O king, misfortune is troubling you – what will you do? A king can tolerate his troubles like anyone else. How are you going to overcome the grave misfortune that’s overwhelming you? And Yudhishthira replied: O Kuru sons – O taurine men – let me tell you what I’ll do when in King Virata’s presence. I’ll tell him I’m a Brahmin named Kanka who likes to roll dice and play games. I’ll be a part of that mahatma’s court. I’ll entertain the king, his courtiers, and his friends by playing chess with pawns made of ivory colored blue, yellow, red, and white and I’ll entertain them by rolling black and red dice. Yes, I’ll delight the king and no one will discover me. If the king asks me about Yudhishthira, I’ll say I used to be his best-friend. That’s how I’ll spend my time in Virata’s city. What will you do while in Virata’s city, Vrikodara?’”

Chapter 630

“Vaisampayana said,

‘And Bhima said: When I’m in the Lord of Virata’s presence, I’ll tell him I’m a chef named Valabha. I’m skilled in the culinary arts and will cook curried dishes for the king, pleasing the king by cooking better than the past royal chefs. I’ll carry great cords of wood, too. When the king sees this mighty feat, he’ll be pleased. O Bharata tribesman, when they bear witness to my superhuman feats, the royal servants will treat me like a king. I’ll be in charge of all the meat and drinks. I will follow every command given to me when I take care of powerful elephants and mighty bulls. If anyone challenges me to a fight, I’ll defeat them to please the king. But, I will not take their lives. If anyone asks about my former employer, I shall say I was Yudhishthira’s royal wrestler and royal chef. That’s how I’ll survive, O king.

"Yudhishthira said: What will the mighty descendant of the Kurus, Dhananjaya, do? He’s the son of Kunti, the best of all with long arms, the one who’s invincible in battle, and the one divine Agni came to (this was when he was staying with Krishna and Agni had disguised himself as a Brahmin; this was when Agni wanted to swallow Khandava Forest). How will the supreme warrior, Arjuna, the one who entered that forest and pleased Agni, defeating others using just one chariot and slaying Nagas and Rakshasas, serve the king? He married the sister of King Vasuki of the Nagas. Like the sun being the best thing that warms, like the Brahmin being be the best biped, like the cobra being the best snake, like fire being the best empowered thing, like the thunderbolt being the best weapon, like the humped bull being the best bovine, like the ocean being the best body of water, like the clouds energized by rain being the best clouds, like Ananta being the best Naga, like Airavata being the best elephant, like the son being the best of all people or things beloved, and like a wife being the best kind of friend, O Vrikodara, youthful Gudakesa is the best archer. O Bharata tribesman, how will Vibhatsu serve Gandiva’s wielder? His chariot is driven by white horses and he’s neither lesser than Indra nor lesser than Vasudeva. How will Arjuna serve? He lived in the thousand-eyed and divinely lustrous one named Indra’s home for five years and earned, due to his own energy, the science of divine weaponry. Yes, he learnt all divine weapons. I consider him the tenth Rudra, the thirteenth Aditya, the ninth Vasu, and the tenth Graha. His arms, symmetrical and long, are rough due to the constant use of the bowstring and the bull-hump-like scars. The supreme warrior is like Mount Himavat when amongst other mountains, like the sea when it’s amongst other bodies of water, like Shakra when he’s amongst other divinities, like fire when it’s among the Vasus, like a tiger when it’s amongst other beasts, and like Garuda when he’s amongst other flocks of birds.

"Arjuna replied: O Lord of the Earth, I will announce myself as a eunuch. O king, though it’s typically quite difficult to hide signs on one’s arms that prove one is an archer, I’ll cover my scarred arms with bangles. Brilliant earrings in my ears, conch-shell-bangles on my wrists, and a single braid falling from my head, I shall, O king, look like a eunuch or transgender and call myself Vrihanala. Disguised as a woman, I shall entertain the king and those who live in the inner quarters with stories. O king, I shall teach the women and girls living in Virata’s palace how to sing, dance pleasing dances, and play a variety of instruments. I shall also tell them the various, excellent things men have done, hiding my true identity, O son of Kunti, with a disguise. O Bharata tribesman, if the king asks about me, I’ll say I was once a lady-in-waiting for Draupadi and that I lived in Yudhishthira’s palace. O supreme king, I shall go incognito thusly like fire hidden by ashes. My time in Virata’s palace will be pleasant.

"Upon saying this, Arjuna, the best of men and best of the virtuous, fell silent. Then, the king said something to another half-brother of his.’”

Chapter 631

“Vaisampayana said,

‘Yudhishthira said: You are tender, naturally graceful when it comes to poise, and one deserving of all luxuries. O heroic Nakula, how will you serve the king while living in his realm? Tell me everything.

"And Nakula said: I shall call myself Granthika and take care of King Virata’s horses. I’ve mastered Equestrianism and am skilled when it comes to tending to horses. Besides, doing so would please me. I’m quite naturally skilled at training and caring for horses – horses are as dear to me as they are to you, O Kuru king. When I care for colts and mares, they are putty in my hands. I’ve never had one I cared for, when being ridden or hitched to a chariot, do something violent. If anyone in Virata’s city asks about me, I shall tell them, O taurine Bharata tribesman, that Yudhishthira put me in charge of the horses. Incognito thusly, O king, I shall have a delightful time in Virata’s city. As I please the king in this way, no one shall know my true identity.

"And Yudhishthira said: What will you do for the king, Sahadeva? How will you go incognito, O child?

Sahadeva replied: I will take care of King Virata’s cows. I’m skilled when it comes to milking cows, keeping records of them, and taming them. Calling myself Tantripal, I shall carry out my duties to the letter. Lift the fever you have in your heart. I was often asked to take care of your cows in the past, so, O Lord of the Earth, I have special skills when it comes to taking care of cows. O king, I know a lot about the nature of cows; I know a lot about their auspicious markings and other matters that have to do with them. I can use the auspicious markings on bulls to tell them apart – the smell of bull-urine can make even the childless give birth. That’s how I’ll go incognito and feel delight. Surely no one will be able to know my true identity; I’ll truly please the king.

"And Yudhishthira said: Our beloved wife is dearer to us than our own lives. Truly she deserves to be cherished by us as if we were her mothers. Truly she deserves to be respected as if she were our older sister. She’s never labored before – how will Drupada’s daughter be able to now? She’s delicate, young, and a quite reputable princess. She’s devoted to her husbands and supremely virtuous – what will she do? Since birth, she’s enjoyed garlands, perfume, ornaments, and expensive robes.

"And Draupadi replied: I can be a Sairindhri – they’re private female artisans that come to another’s home. Respectable women are not employed as Sairindhris. Within our caste are some Sairindhris. I shall offer my services as one of them, my talent being hair-dressing. If questioned by the king, O Bharata tribesman, I shall say that I was once one of Draupadi’s ladies-in-waiting while in Yudhishthira’s home. That’s how I’ll go incognito. I shall serve the famous queen, Sudeshna. Queen Sudeshna will surely take good care of me. Do not grieve, O king.

"And Yudhishthira said: O Krishna, what good things you say! But, lovely girl, you were born into a respectable family. You’re righteous, always focusing on keeping to virtuous vows, and one who knows nothing of sin. Please act in such a way that evil-hearted, sinful men do not look at you and gladden.’”

Chapter 632

“Vaisampayana said,

‘Yudhishthira said: All of you’ve said how you will serve the king and I too, acting sensibly, have told you how I will serve. Let our priest, along with our charioteers and chefs, go to Drupada’s home and tend to the Agnihotra fires therein. Let Indrasena and the others, taking the emptied chariots with them, hurry back to Dwaravati. This is my wish. Let Draupadi’s serving-maids go back to the Panchalas along with our charioteers and chefs. If anyone asks, they must tell them that they have no idea where the Pandavas went after leaving them at Lake Dwaitavana.

"Having thusly asked one another for advice and said how they’d serve the king, the Pandavas asked Dhaumya for advice. Dhaumya told them: O adopted sons of Pandu, your decisions when it comes to the Brahmins, your friends, your chariots, your weapons, and the sacred fires are excellent. But, O Yudhishthira, it would suit Arjuna and you to ensure Draupadi’s protection. O king, you know too well how men can be. But, no matter how much you know, friends, out of love, can tell you what you already know. This bows down to the immortal wishes of virtue, pleasure, and profit. So, I shall tell you something. Note what it is I have to say. It’s difficult to live with a king, unfortunately. But, I shall tell you, O princes, how to both live in a royal home and remain perfectly innocent therein at all times. O Kauravas, you must spend a year in the king’s palace whether or not you are honorable while doing so, hidden from those who know you. A year from now, you will live happy lives. O adopted son of Pandu, in this world, kings, ones who cherish and protect all and ones who are personified gods, are like great fires mantras have made holy. One should only go to a king if he’s gotten his permission at the gate to do so. The secrets of royalty should not be dealt with. One should never covet the seat another desires. The man who does these things and considers himself a favorite may sit in the king’s chariot, vehicle, or coach and/or sit on his seat or ride his elephant. A man like that and no other may dwell in a royal home. The man who doesn’t sit on an assigned seat alarms wicked men – the aforementioned one and no other may dwell in a royal home. No one should advise a king unless asked to. Honoring a king when the time is right, one should sit in silence beside him respectfully – babblers and slandering advisors offend a king. Wise men do not befriend a king’s wife; they do not befriend the inhabitants of the inner quarters; they do not befriend the ones found truly offensive. The ones near the king ought to perform trivialities, telling him about even them. If one acts this way towards a ruler, one will come to no harm. Even the man who’s given the highest position should, if neither asked nor ordered otherwise, consider himself, respecting the king’s dignity, rank-less. O enemy-tamers, the rulers of men, if their dignity is corrupted, will never forgive the one who corrupted it – even if that person is his son, grandson, or brother. One should serve a king with goodly care like one serving Agni or any other god. If the king is betrayed, surely the betrayer will be wiped out. A man should take the path his ruler wishes him to, putting aside his anger, pride, and laziness. A man should always first mull over matters carefully and then present the matters to his rulers if such matters are beneficial and pleasant. If the matter is just beneficial, the man should still tell the king about it, whether it’s an unpleasant topic or not. It’s suitable for a man to like the same things his ruler does and not say things that are unpleasant and unrewarding. Instead of always thinking that the king doesn’t like him, a man should put aside his laziness and always do that which is pleasant and beneficial for the king. The man who never abandons his post, is cold to those who are violent towards the king, and tries to never do the king wrong – such a one and such a one alone – is worthy of dwelling in a royal home. An educated man should sit on the king’s right-hand or left-hand side because the place behind the king is meant for armed guards. It would be wrong to sit in front of him. If the king is focusing on his servants, a man should never force his way to the front, be that troubled man quite poorly or not – that’s inexcusable. It ill-suits a man to repeat to another the lie the king told – kings are cold to those who repeat his lies. Kings disrespect those who consider themselves educated. A man should never boast of his courage or intellect – one earns the king’s good graces and enjoys the good things in life by doing that which pleases his ruler. O Bharata tribesman, a man, winning pleasant things and riches that are quite difficult to earn, should always do that which rewards and pleases his ruler. If wise men respect a man, how can he even consider harming one whose anger is quite problematic and/or one whose favor is quite rewarding? One’s lips, pair of arms, and pair of thighs oughtn’t move an inch in a king’s presence; one should be gentle when speaking and spitting in his presence too. If something is funny, a man should neither laugh loudly and/or maniacally nor hold back to the extreme. If something interests him, a man should smile modestly. One who always keeps the king’s well-being in mind and is neither thrilled by rewards nor depressed when disgraced – such a one and such a one alone – is worthy of dwelling in a royal home. An educated courtier who always pleases the king and his son with pleasant speeches will be a favorite member of the royal household. If a favorite courtier justly lost royal favor but says nothing bad about the king, he’ll earn his prosperity back. A man who either serves the king or lives in his home will, if he’s wise, praise his ruler whether that ruler is present or not. The courtier who tries to reach his goal by coercing the king will soon be fired and will risk death. A man should not, just for self-interest, begin conversing with the king’s enemies. When it comes to ability and talent, no man should consider himself better than his ruler. One who’s always cheerful, strong, brave, honest, gentle, possessive of tamed senses, and one who follows his master as if he’s his shadow – he and he alone – is worthy of dwelling in a royal home. He who’s given a job to do and says it shall be done – he and he alone – is worthy of dwelling in a royal home. The man who never fears doing the job he was given to do, no matter whether the job takes him inside or outside the palace – he and he alone – is worthy of living in a royal home. The man who lives away from home, forgetting his dear ones and feeling miserable in expectation of future happiness – he and he alone – is worthy of living in a royal home. One should not dress like the king, laugh freely in the king’s presence, or reveal the secrets of royalty. These are the ways a man can earn the favor of royalty. If one is given a job to do, one shouldn’t even think about bribery – not doing one’s job properly in this way can put a man in shackles or lead to death. The robes, ornaments, chariots, and other things a king is pleased to give away should always be used – it earns the recipient the favor of royalty. O children – O adopted sons of Pandu – spend this year this way with controlled minds. Upon getting your own kingdom back, you may do as you please. And Yudhishthira said: You’ve taught us well. Blessings to you. Kunti and Vidura, both quite wise, are the only others who could have said such things. It’d suit you to do all that is necessary when it comes to our departure and when it comes to making sure we’ll both come through safely and defeat our enemies.

"Having been thusly addressed by Yudhishthira, Dhaumya, the supreme Brahmin, performed the rituals having to do with departure lawfully. Igniting their fires, he offered, as he chanted mantras, oblations for the sake of their prosperity, their success, and their re-conquest of the earth. Upon circling the fires and the ascetically wealthy Brahmins, the six departed, Yajnaseni leading them. Once the heroes had departed, Dhaumya, the supreme ascetic, followed the Panchalas, bearing the sacred fires. Indrasena, as well as the ones aforementioned, went to the Yadavas. Tending to the Pandavas’ horses and chariots, they spent their time in happiness and solitude.’”

Chapter 633

“Vaisampayana said,

‘Tying swords to their waists, equipping themselves with iguana-skin gloves, and equipping themselves with various weapons, the heroes walked toward the Yamuna. The archers who wished to get their kingdom back as soon as possible, the ones who had once lived within inaccessible hills and forest-forts, now put an end to their forest-life and headed to the southern bank of the Yamuna. The mighty warriors with naturally great strength had once killed the deer of the forest as hunters passed through Yakriloma and Surasena, leaving the Panchalas’ land that was on their left and the Dasarnas’ land that was on their right behind. The pallid archers with beards and swords entered Matsya’s lands, leaving the forest behind and resembling hunters. Upon arriving in that country, Krishna told Yudhishthira: Here are walking-paths and a variety of fields. Methinks Virata’s city is still far off. Let’s rest here for the rest of the night – I’m quite exhausted.

"And Yudhishthira said: O Bharata tribesman named Dhananjaya, won’t you pick up Panchali and carry her? Soon after we left that forest behind, we arrived at the city.

"Like a bull-elephant, Arjuna quickly picked up Draupadi. As soon as he was inside the city, he set her down. When they came to the city, the son of Ruru (Yudhishthira) told Arjuna: We must store our weapons somewhere before entering the city. If we entered the city, O child, bearing arms, surely the people would sound the alarm. Furthermore, everyone knows about the tremendous bow named Gandiva. Surely that would give us away to the people – and quickly. If just one of us reveals his true identity, we must spend another twelve years in the forest. So, Arjuna said: Directly near that cemetery in the distance and near the inaccessible mountaintop is a mighty banyan with disorderly, gigantic branches that’d be difficult to climb. O adopted son of Pandu, methinks no one will catch us storing our weapons there. The tree grows in the center of a forest that’s difficult to access, the forest has plenty of beasts and snakes living therein, and the place is near a gloomy cemetery. We could put our weapons in the banyan and then enter the city, O Bharata tribesman, living there without worry.

"O taurine Bharata tribesman, upon saying this to righteous Yudhishthira, Arjuna made ready to put the weapons in the tree. The taurine Kuru then loosened the string of large, dreadful Gandiva – it always made a thunderous twang, always wiped out unfriendly armies, and he had used it to conquer, using one chariot, gods, men, Nagas, and vast lands. Warlike Yudhishthira, the tamer of enemies, untied the never-decaying string of the bow he’d used to defend Kurukshstra Field. Noteworthy Bhimasena untied the bow he’d used, as an innocent, to defeat the Pandavas, the Lord of Sindhu, and, during his lifetime of conquests, to single-handedly fight a countless number of enemies. When anyone or anything heard his bow’s twang, it sounded like roaring thunder or a splitting mountain – it always made enemies flee the battlefield in a panic. The adopted son of Pandu with a coppery complexion who spoke gently and had great natural power on the battlefield, (Nakula) due to his beauty being beyond compare when compared to other family members untied the bowstring he’d used to conquer the western lands. Heroic Sahadeva, one with a gentle disposition, untied the bowstring he’d used to conquer the southern lands. They put their bows, their long and flashy swords, their precious quivers, and their razor-sharp arrows together. Nakula climbed up the tree and dropped off the bows and the other weapons. He tied those weapons to sections of that tree that he thought were both unbreakable and protected from water. Then, the Pandavas put a corpse in the tree so that anyone smelling the stench of the rotting corpse would stay away. When the local shepherds and cowherds asked about the body, the enemy-tamers told them: She was our one-hundred-and-eighty-year-old mother. Just as our forefathers have done, we’ve put her body in a tree. Then, the enemy-challengers neared the city. In order to go incognito, Yudhishthira gave names to himself and his half-brothers – they would be Jaya, Jayanta, Vijaya, Jayatsena, and Jayatvala. The six entered the great city, planning to go incognito for their thirteenth year of exile. That way, they’d be keeping their promise to Duryodhana.’”

Chapter 634

“Vaisampayana said,

‘While Yudhishthira was on his way to the delightful city that belonged to Virata, he began silently praising holy, divine Durga – she’s the holy, supreme Goddess of the Universe, she was birthed by Yasoda, she liked the wishes Narayana granted for her sake, she came from Nanda’s cowherd, she bestows prosperity, she makes the family of the one who worships her more glorious, she terrified Kansa, and she has destroyed Asuras. Yes, he saluted The Goddess – she had soared into the skies when thrown onto a stony platform by Kansa, she is Vasudeva’s sister, she always wears divine leis and heavenly robes, she bears a scimitar and shield, and she always rescues the one worshipping her who’s sunken due to sin like a cow sunken in muck. Yes, she relieves the burdened one in his time of distress who called upon her, she the immortal bestower of blessings. The king and his half-brothers wanted to see the holy goddess – he called upon her and began praising her by way of reciting her various names (names for her as seen in hymns).

"Yudhishthira said: Greetings to You, O bestower of boons. O One who’s like Krishna – O maiden – O One who was once a Brahmacharya – O One whose body is as bright as the newly-risen sun – O One whose face is as beautiful as the full moon – greetings to you. O One with four hands and four faces – O One with lovely, round hips and a deeply inset chest – O One wearing emerald and sapphire bangles – O One wearing excellent bracelets on your upper arm – You shine, O holy goddess, like Narayana’s wife Padma. O One who wanders through the heavens, Your true shape and vow to be a Brahmacharya are supremely pure. Your face, as black as dark clouds, is as beautiful as Sankarshana’s face. You have two arms as long as spears and You raise them in honor of Indra. In Your six other arms, You carry a container, a lotus, a bell, a noose, a bow, a large discus, and various, other weapons. You are the only female in the universe with purity. You’re decorated with two well-formed ears that’re graced with excellent earrings. O holy goddess, You shine because your face challenges the moon’s beauty. You, with Your excellent crown, beautiful braid, snakeskin robes, and hips-circling, brilliant belt shine like Mount Mandara when surrounded by snakes. Peacock-feathers erect on Your head make You shine; You’ve made the divine regions holy by taking a vow of immortal celibacy. Because You slew Mahishasura and because You protect the three worlds, You’re praised and worshipped by the gods. O supreme god, grace me, be merciful, and be my source of blessings. You’re Jaya and Vijaya; You ensure that one side will be victorious in battle. Make me victorious, holy goddess; grant my wishes in this time of troubles. Your immortal home is on Mount Vindhya, the best of all mountains. O Kali – O Kali – You are the great Kali – You always like wine, meat, and animal-sacrifices. You can go anywhere you wish, You grant your devotees’ wishes, and You’re always followed during Your journeys by Brahma and the other gods. You can reward anyone with children or riches – anyone who asks You to lift their burdens and/or bring their bows to life on earth at dawn will have their wishes come true. Since You remove a person’s difficulty (troubled in the wild or sinking in a great sea), everyone calls You Durga ( meaning: remover of difficulty). You’re the lone shelter of men who’re attacked by thieves, troubled when crossing a stream or sea, or troubled when passing through the wild or a forest. Men who remember You never fall prostrate on the ground, great and holy goddess. You’re fame, prosperity, steadfastness, success, the holy wife, man’s holy child, knowledge, and intellect. You’re both twilights personified, sleeping at night, light (sunlight and moonlight), beauty, forgiveness, mercy, and everything else. When Your devotees worship you, You break their chains, remove their ignorance, help them if they’ve lost children or riches, and help them if they’re diseased, fearful, or dead. I, one whose kingdom has been taken away from him, look to You for protection. I bow down to You with my head hung, supreme and holy goddess – protect me, lotus-leaf-eyed One. We follow truth, so be like wish-granting Truth. O Durga, You’re kind to anyone who comes to You for protection and You’re loving to him – protect me.

"Upon being thusly praised by the adopted son of Pandu, the holy goddess appeared before him. Nearing the king, she said to him: Listen to me, mighty-armed king and lord. Because of my grace, the Kauravan soldiers will be defeated and killed quickly – victory will soon be yours. You’ll rule the world again, having removed all thorns from your lands. O king, you shall also, along with your half-brothers, earn great happiness. Because of my grace, joy and good health will be yours. Anyone on earth who speaks of my qualities and successes will be purged of all sin and pleased. I shall give such persons a kingdom, a long life, a beautiful body, and children. O king, anyone who calls me as you have will earn everything in the world, no matter if he’s outside the city in exile, in the city, in the middle of a battle, in danger due to a battle or enemies, in a forest, in an inaccessible desert, or in a sea-fortress or mountain-fortress. O adopted sons of Pandu, anyone who sings or listens to this excellent hymn devotedly will always reach his goals. Due to my grace, not one Kuru spy or anyone living in the Matsyas’ land will recognize you whilst you live in Virata’s city.

"Upon saying this to Yudhishthira (the enemy-criticizer) and upon arranging for the protection of the adopted sons of Pandu, the holy goddess disappeared right then and there.’”

Chapter 635

“Vaisampayana said,

‘Then, placing dice made of gold with insets of lapis lazuli on a piece of cloth and tying up the bundle, King Yudhishthira carried the bundle near his arm-pit. He, the noteworthy Lord of Men, the mahatma and bearer of the Kuru line, the one kings respected, the one whose might was unstoppable, the one like a snake with powerful poison, the taurine man, the one with natural strength, beauty, and power, the one who was naturally great, and the one who looked like a divinity overall now looked like the sun covered by heavy clouds or a fire coated with ashes. He went before the famous King Virata, one seated in his court. Seeing Yudhishthira (the adopted son of Pandu) and his devotees in his court, Yudhishthira being one who looked like the moon hiding behind some clouds and one whose face was as naturally beautiful as a full moon, King Virata told his advisors, the twice-born, his charioteers, the Vaisyas and the others: Ask about him – it’s as if a king is seeing my court for the first time. He cannot be a Brahmin. I think he’s a man’s man. Though he has no slaves, chariots, or elephants with him, he shines like Indra. The signs on his body tell me the hair on his head has experienced the sacred inauguration. That’s what I think. He’s nearing me without any signs of hesitation like an elephant in heat nearing a collection of lotuses.

"As the king voiced such thoughts, Yudhishthira, that taurine man, went to Virata and told him: O great king, I am a Brahmin who’s lost everything and come to you in hopes of survival. O innocent one – O Lord – I want to live here and carry out your orders. The king then, well-pleased, replied: You may do so. Take the job you wish to have.

"Now that the leonine man would have the job he wished to have, King Virata added, his heart gladdened: O king, hear what I say to you out of love – whom did you serve previously? What is your name, which family do you come from, and what do you know?

"So Yudhishthira said: My name is Kanka. I am a Brahmin and I come from the Vaiyaghra family line. I am skilled at throwing dice. I used to be Yudhishthira’s friend.

"And Virata replied: I will grant any wish of yours. Rule the Matsyas and let me serve you. Clever gamblers like me, too. You’re like a god and should rule a kingdom.